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Tunisia calls for talks to resolve Mali crisis

February 17, 2014 at 1:50 am

The Tunisian government has called for comprehensive talks to solve the crisis in Mali. Stressing that it supports Mali’s security and national unity, it has condemned all threats to the state from militants and terrorist groups.

In a government statement, understanding was expressed about the decision made by Mali to confront the security risks threatening the country, especially in the capital Bamako. The statement was issued at the end of a meeting held on Thursday attended by President Moncef Marzouki, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and senior officials and ministers, including Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalam. It called for “comprehensive national dialogue” in Mali “in conjunction with the military effort to tackle the threats and engage those political groups which have not resorted to violence”.

Tunis also urged the African coastal states and North African Arab states to support Mali’s efforts and coordinate security policies to confront imminent threats. This is especially important, said the government, because the Arab Maghreb countries are increasingly vulnerable to the repercussions of conflict in Mali.

The Tunisians also used the government statement to condemn the kidnapping of Algerian and foreign citizens by “terrorist” groups.

They expressed their “full support for the Algerian brothers against this attack.”

In response to a question about the preparations for confronting possible security threats against the backdrop of the French intervention in Mali, Foreign Minister Abdessalam said, “The situation requires us to be alert to possible knock-on effects in the region; it also requires a holistic approach that includes security, political and awareness aspects of the situation to be considered.”

The minister pointed out that the warning on the website of the French embassy in Tunis for French citizens to avoid going into the Tunisian desert was “routine” in such circumstances. He added that Tunisian security forces have been ordered to take suitable measures to protect French diplomatic institutions and citizens in the country.